Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Apostate 2.0

     This post, I shall write about Libbie Hawker; Take Off Your Pants!
     Like Rachel AaronLibbie Hawker has a construct with three legs.
     Rachel's three legs: 1) knowledge, 2) time, and 3) enthusiasm. According to Rachel, if I have these then I will write faster. I tried this and reported the results in Apostate 1.3. Yeah, it helped me write faster. Significantly faster.
     Libbie's three legs: 1) Character Arc, 2) Theme, and 3) Pacing. (Caps in the original.)
     According to Libbie, these three are the elements of an effective outline.
     When I read that, a sizable part of my brain said, "No."
     Note that plot is not included. She explains that by saying "[P]lot is not the same thing as story -- at least, not within the context of this book, or within the practice of outlining."
     To Libbie, story is all about 'character growth'. Just so's you know, growth means a change of attitude in a way that the author finds better. After all, Adolf Hitler changed over time, but the view of the majority now is that he changed for worse, not better. Helen Keller changed, too. She became a radical Socialist and supported Eugene Debs for president. Not just once. Many times. (Betcha didn't know that, didya?)
     Well, I read that and I thought, "Chick lit." Libbie's telling me not how to write faster but how to write chick lit. That's fine.
     But I don't write chick lit.
     Orson Scott Card says there are four kinds of stories and the mnemonic to remember them is MICE: 1) milieu, 2) idea, 3) character, and 4) event. All are present in a story, but one dominates. According to Libbie, character should dominate. Always.
     I just finished Patrice SarathGordath Wood. It is all about the milieu; that is, the world on the other side of the gordath. Maybe Patrice thinks it is about the characters, but it is not. How do I know that? Once the characters escape through the gordath, once they return to their world, the story is over. Any character change that happened was incidental to or directly driven  by the effort to return.
     OSC says that Lord of the Rings is a milieu story. Yeah, Frodo or Bilbo or Dildo or whatever-his-name-is undergoes some personal change, so some will say it is a character-driven story. There is a quest and lots of things happen, so some will say it is an event-driven story. But the story ends with the end of Middle Earth. It is a milieu-driven story.
     For the same reason, the Star Wars saga-in-six-parts is a milieu-driven story. The Empire rises; the Empire falls. And the story ends.
     Isaac AsimovSpell My Name with an S is an idea-driven story. The idea is that large consequences may follow from small events. The same idea drives Ray BradburyA Sound of Thunder. Once the idea is expounded, the story ends. Likewise, A Clockwork Orange is idea-driven.
     Now we come to character-driven stories.
     I expect that all of Libbie's works are character driven. All coming-of-age stories are character driven. Joe HaldemanAll My Sins Remembered is character-driven. The separate parts are event-driven, but the book as a whole traces the changes in Otto McGavin. I modeled Heart of Stone after AMSR, but I bet you cannot guess who is the character that changes. Character-driven movies abound: Stand by MeWhen Harry Met Sally..., and Dances with Wolves to name three. Make it four: Bull Durham.
     Last there are event-driven stories: guy lit. All the detective stories ever written are event-driven. Sherlock Holmes. Hercule Poirot. Nero Wolfe. Nick Charles. Peter Gunn. Jim Rockford. These characters never changed. They just found themselves thrown into threatening situations (events), and they figured out a way to succeed. Movies? Mission ImpossibleThe Fast and the FuriousThe Shawshank Redemption.
     It is clear to me that if I follow Libbie's three-legged construct, I shall be limited to character-driven stories. I don't want that.
     I will read further, but, as of this writing, I'm sticking with Rachel Aaron 's triad: knowledge, time, enthusiasm.
Stay tuned.

Happy trails.

Links to the posts in this series:
Apostate 1.4
Apostate 1.3
Apostate 1.2
Apostate 1.1
Apostate 1.0
Apostate 0.2
Apostate 0.1

Links to the books:
Rachel Aaron; 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better
Libbie Hawker; Take Off Your Pants!

Links to the authors' websites:
Rachel Aaron
Libbie Hawker

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